Sir Nicholas Beringar has come to Ravenmoore Castle with the task of rebuilding the neglected castle and repairing the abused relations with the locals. Acting on a whim he brings the desperate lad who tries to rob him in instead as a squire. He sees a young boy, too thin, too secretive, and too scared, but his mind isn't sure what to make of young Thomas, who is actually the Lady Elizabet Armstrong seeking to free her wrongly imprisoned family. The only way out is to trust each other, but can they?
Overall, I'd say this is an about average romance novel. Neither horrible nor amazing. There was lust aplenty, but it left me wanting (and not in a hot and heavy way). I don't expect high accuracy in historical romance, since, lets be honest, its more there as a backdrop, but some things still bother me, and I'm not a fan of certain tropes.
First off, I'm not so sure the author understands the size of a claymore, and how fighting with one works. To quote a friend of mine, the claymore is used for "the Scottish martial art of Dink-Thud." These are large swords, with a length just under 5', and fantastic for field battles. More of a hack and crush weapon, and quite possibly one that you leave embedded in your dying enemy as you grab theirs and continue on killing their friends.
Long story short, these are not effective "dueling in dungeon hallways" weapons. Nor really effective for short range "stab through the heart" weapons.
I also don't really have much patience for "mortal threat of rape" troupe that comes up in romance novels. Comic books have a problem with women in refrigerators, romance novels have the threat of brutal defilement. At least the woman is expected to live in a romance novel. But the villain in this story is so two dimensional he's a waxed mustache away from being Snidely Whiplash. He wants to rape Elizabet, wants her to to hate his touch, wants it to be an act of possession and defilement. He likes that she's a fighter, and doesn't want to "break her" too quickly because her fight will make the rape more fun for him. He's slime and while he ostensibly has other offenses against both Elizabet's brother and her fiance, really all he cares about is violating her (and using that to make the men suffer before he kills them, and likely her).
Of course, we have the woman disguised as a boy falling in love with the man she serves (and he having all sorts of confused feelings that he's not comfortable with). This can totally be a fun troupe, but didn't stand out in any sort of amazing execution. However, I now have an itch for a M-M version of this, where a young man disguises himself as a woman, and the (obviously) handsome and powerful man he serves starts having confused feelings about this "lady." This has to exist somewhere, now to find it.
If you're a fan of Diana Cosby, this book likely will make for an enjoyable read. If you're looking for a historical romance with good depth, character development, and really steamy sex scenes, it might not satisfy.
Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of Netgalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.